Rosheda Stephenson calls NYC and the Caribbean home. Her travel articles are meant to inspire passion, adventure and curiosity.
All-inclusive resorts provide the ultimate in value for families with multiple kids. Perhaps their biggest draw is the wide variety of organized activities and fun facilities in one area and for one price. My family recently visited the Beaches, Negril resort in Jamaica and found the facilities for kids to be superb.The Beaches chain of all-inclusive resorts is known for family vacations and beachside ambiance. In Jamaica, the chain has hotels in two towns: Ocho Rios and Negril.
Negril is the one to choose if the beach matters to you. The town, famous for its miles of white sand, calm waves, and warm turquoise waters, retains the simplicity and laid back vibes that are difficult to find in the busier tourist towns of Jamaica.
If you are researching family-oriented resorts in Jamaica, this Beaches, Negril review gives you ten reasons to consider the resort.
1. The Pirate Themed Waterpark
Beaches, Negril combines two great childhood loves into one fun space for its tiny visitors. Water sprinklers surrounded by pirates and other pirate themed elements make their small waterpark irresistible.Toddlers will love the area designed especially for them with gentle sprinklers and short water slides. The thoughtfully planned area even includes short stairs that any walking toddler can climb on her own. If by chance your toddler dislikes the spraying water, there are pirate figures to admire and pretend play with, and small buckets that gently disperse water to more timid visitors.
Even older kids will like the water features at the waterpark. In my family the older kids kept going back for more of a giant bucket that got them soaking wet by dumping gallons of water every few minutes. Even 'tweens and teenagers seemed to enjoy timing the bucket just before it dumped its wet load.
2. The Creamy Frozen Yogurt
One of the best things about the Negril branch of the Beaches resort chain is the food. Included in the stay is more than seven restaurants serving international cuisine like Mexican, Japanese and of course spicy Jamaican. Among the restaurants are two dedicated solely to desserts. Good luck prying your kids from these.
There is the small Cafe' de Paris with its French inspired pastries and cookies where whole families inadvertently ended up at various times during the day for kid-friendly baked treats and coffee for the grown ups. Then there is the small Frozen yogurt serving Yoyos. In my family Yoyo's was the winner at dessert time. The creamy frozen yogurt kept inspiring screams for seconds from the kids. Even the adults agreed that Yoyo's was a winner.
The tiny frozen yogurt shop is ideally situated right next to a barbeque restaurant, and in the general kiddie pool area to make it the ideal spot for dessert after a meal or for a quick treat after swimming. This meant more independence for the kids who could easily grab their own dessert or treat if they got hungry while swimming or playing in the water features.
Although small, Yoyo's serves a good variety of flavors that includes a few tropical ones and traditional ones like chocolate and vanilla.
There seems to be consensus- at least among kids- that frozen yogurt cannot be eaten without toppings like gummi bears and candy pieces. Yoyo's has all the favorites for those who like making unusual creations. The all around favorite in my group was the chocolate cookie sprinkles which when combined with the coffee flavored yogurt was divine.
3. Glass Bottom Boat Rides
Most All Inclusives pay off for families because of the numerous activities that come included in the stay. Beaches, Negril is no exception. Banana boat rides, waterskiing, glass bottom boats, snorkeling and more are all included. Although some of these activities may not be appropriate for a family with young kids, the glass bottom boat rides are perfect for any age.
The glass bottom boat passes over a real reef with colorful ocean life and clear water. That's not all. As part of the experience, the boat staff snorkels down into the ocean where they find sea urchins, sea cucumber and starfish to bring onboard. Touching and seeing the creatures up close is a real treat that the kids wont soon forget.
4. Sesame Street Characters
Younger kids who love Elmo, Big Bird or Cookie Monster will have a blast at the resort. Sesame Street is everywhere. There is a Sesame Street Day Camp where little ones will play alphabet games and sing with the characters while mom and dad relax. A weekly Sesame Street parade goes through the resort and unto the beach where the kids can have dinner and take pictures with their favorite characters, and every evening there is a Sesame Street show in the theater. For extra, the resort will also arrange a Sesame Street breakfast or night time tuck in.
If you have a child who would die for Elmo, then the resort is a must.
5. The Beach
True to its name, Beaches, Negril comes with a beautiful stretch of beach where gorgeous views combine with warm water to make relaxing easy. Whether your family is into building sandcastles, swimming or combing the beach for shells, the beach in this part of Jamaica is particularly suitable for family fun. Calm waters make swimming easy and pleasurable and a good stretch of sand just beckons to castle builders.
For the adults and teenagers in the family, there are beach chairs for lounging in the sun or taking in the amazing sunsets Negril is known for. Be forewarned though that these go quickly so getting to the beach early is advisable. Some families choose to rent one of the resort's luxurious looking beach-side cabanas for guaranteed seating, personal servers and cool shade from the sun. Although these are a great treat if your pocket agrees, they are not absolutely necessary to enjoy the beach.
Other beach attractions include a beach side bar for the adults and the aqua area where watersports can be arranged.
6. The Long Lazy River
Few things can be as relaxing as floating around aimlessly while taking in views of a tropical paradise. Winding through the center of the waterpark area of Beaches, Negril is a lazy river where younger kids seemed to congregate daily for ultimate relaxation. The lazy river seemed about four feet deep so many parents were comfortable leaving their kids to float around on their own. However, even weaker swimmers would be ok in the river as there is a lifeguard stationed right in the center.
7. Xbox Heaven
Both indoor and outdoor attractions at the resort are fun. The Xbox lounge seemed to be one of the biggest hit on the resort. The cool lounge served as a daily hangout spot for teenagers and video game fans. There is adult supervision in the lounge to keep the fun going and it wasn't unusual to see video game contests between the older kids and the resort's staff! For families with older kids, this lounge will definitely be a hit.
8. The Serpentine Waterslides
Beaches, Negril has two waterslides on property that add to the fun on a hot day. The waterslides twist and turn before dumping their riders into shallow water. While the slides are sure to be a hit with many families, for my family, they weren't as much fun as I anticipated. That was solely because the slides are body slides and not tube slides like the ones we normally use. As there are no double tubes, only one kid can go down at a time (this is a rule that the lifeguards enforce) and depending on your family this may be a downer. Regardless, the resort has waterslides that should make many kids very happy.
9. The Lifeguards
This one may be more for the parents than the kids, but my Beaches, Negril review would be incomplete if I didn't point out that the resort seems to take water safety seriously and had lifeguards posted everywhere. There was a lifeguard at the kiddie pool, by the waterslides, in the center of the lazy river and almost anywhere there was water. This gave me peace of mind and made me comfortable to leave the kids unattended sometimes. The independence in turn made them happy on their trip.
10. The Sunset
Anyone who has seen one of Negril's famous sunsets will tell you its not a sight soon forgotten. Even kids can appreciate the stunning orange wonder that is a Negril sunset. Beaches, Negril is perfectly situated to give them the experience. Why not take a blanket or just lounge on the beach chairs one evening while the sun sets over Negril. It's a sight the whole family will enjoy.